Naturalisation as a British Citizen
Naturalisation is the legal process by which a non-British adult becomes a British citizen. An application has to be made to the Home Office and if the criteria set out in the British Nationality Act 1981 are met then the application will be granted and the person can attend a ceremony to become a British citizen and obtain a Certificate of Naturalisation. Around 160,000 foreign nationals became British citizens in this way in 2019. The application is normally made and paid for online via the gov.uk website, although a paper form, Form AN, can still be used. At the time of writing the fee was £1,330, of which only £80 (the administrative cost for the citizenship ceremony) will be refunded if the application is refused. The requirements for naturalisation include a set period of lawful residence in the United Kingdom, possession of permanent immigration status, passing the “good character” test, passing the “Life in the UK” test and taking an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen at a formal citizenship ceremony. In this blog post we’re taking a quick look through these core requirements to explain what they mean and how the good character test is interpreted by the Home Office.
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/E0BWU7t
What Does the Life in the UK Handbook Say About Who the British People Are?
On 22 July 2020, over 180 historians of Britain, the British Empire, and colonialism published an open letter calling for the review of the history chapter of the UK’s official “Life in the UK Handbook.” They concluded: For applicants from former colonies with knowledge of imperial violence, this account is offensive. For those from outside the former Empire without prior education in history, the official handbook creates a distorted view of the British past. For those with a basic knowledge of history, whatever their background, it puts them in the invidious position of being obliged to read, remember and repeat a version of the past which is false. For British citizens in general, the official history perpetuates a misleading view of how we came to be who we are.
The Life in the UK Test has been repeatedly criticised for its difficulty, its random inaccuracies, and the irrelevance of much of its content to life in the UK today, from the precise height of the London Eye to the name of the first Archbishop of Canterbury. In October 2018, the then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid described it as a “pub quiz”, and promised to bring in a new test focussing on “British values”. There has been no sustained public engagement, however, with the broader vision of Britain’s past and present it requires migrants to endorse.
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/DG6XTM
Rule 35 Not Working – and There is Data to Prove it
Data about the operation of Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules brought into the public domain by a Freedom of Information request lays bare the inadequacies of the current system for reporting vulnerabilities among immigration detainees. The data, obtained by Lewis Kett of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, demonstrates that Rule 35 reporting obligations are being consistently ignored by detention centre GPs.
Rule 35 requires a report to be issued by the detention centre GP in three circumstances: (1) The medical practitioner shall report to the manager on the case of any detained person whose health is likely to be injuriously affected by continued detention or any conditions of detention. (2) The medical practitioner shall report to the manager on the case of any detained person he suspects of having suicidal intentions, and the detained person shall be placed under special observation for so long as those suspicions remain, and a record of his treatment and condition shall be kept throughout that time in a manner to be determined by the Secretary of State. (3) The medical practitioner shall report to the manager on the case of any detained person who he is concerned may have been the victim of torture.
The idea is that the report will be considered by the Home Office and the decision to detain reviewed quickly under the Adults at Risk policy. Rule 35 is essential because, if operated correctly, it provides a mechanism by which detention centre staff can notify the officials who make detention decisions that a particular person is vulnerable. Without an effective Rule 35 process, decision-makers may well not be aware of vulnerabilities and authorise detention even though it is in breach of Home Office policy.
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/eaUEg9
Hospital Order Not a Conviction for Purpose of Foreign Criminal Definition
The technical point, or ratio, of MZ (Hospital order: whether a ‘foreign criminal’)  UKUT 225 (IAC) is that a hospital order under section 5(1)(b) of the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964 is not a criminal conviction for the purposes of the definition of a ‘foreign criminal’ under Part V of the 2002 Act. Given that the sentencing judge explicitly said “This is not a conviction” it seems …surprising*… that officials at the Home Office tried to argue the point.
On the facts, the appellant won his case: I find that it is apparent from the judge’s findings that there exist very significant obstacles to the integration in Pakistan of this young appellant, who has resided in the United Kingdom for many years, who suffers from a serious schizoaffective disorder the management of which requires continuous treatment and monitoring and who has nobody in Pakistan able or willing to assist him.
The official headnote: An individual sentenced to a hospital order following a finding under section 5 (1) (b) of the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964 that he ‘is under a disability and that he did the act or made the omission charged against him’ is neither subject to section 117C of the 2002 Act (as amended) nor to paragraphs A398-399 of the Immigration Rules. He is excluded from the statutory provisions by section 117D(3)(a) and from the Immigration Rules concerning deportation.
[Note: The difference between OLO and Andell to which the judge refers at paras  to  is now resolved in SC (paras A398-339D: ‘foreign criminal’: procedure) Albania  UKUT 187 (IAC).] The note at the end there does not actually feature in the determination. Neither the judge at the FTT nor UTJ Lane were made aware of the SC case, which had already resolved an earlier …tension… in tribunal jurisprudence. *Not that surprising now I think about it! Colin Yeo
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/UDcnbp
Landmark Decision on “Particular Social Group”
DH (Particular Social Group: Mental Health) Afghanistan  UKUT 223 (IAC) is an important case for numerous reasons. It affirms the supremacy of the Refugee Convention 1951 over EU law by reference to the Convention’s object and purpose; it recognises for the first time in UK asylum law that a “person living with disability or mental ill-health” may qualify as a member of a particular social group (PSG); and it clarifies the correct legal approach, overturning previous unhelpful tribunal authority, approving obiter comments of the House of Lords as well as affirming the UN Refugee Agency guidelines (helpfully annexed to the decision) making it easier to establish a PSG in all cases.
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/WvfWG5
Receiving a Deportation Order to Leave the UK
Receiving a deportation order to leave the UK can be a deeply traumatic experience, especially if it is unexpected or due to circumstances outside of your control. If you have recently received a deportation order for any reason, it is vital to engage strong legal expertise if you plan to appeal the decision to have you removed from the country.
Unfortunately, deportations are not uncommon in the UK. According to the Migration Observatory, in 2019 there were over 7,400 enforced returns; this was, however, the lowest annual number on record, and represented 22&#x f;ewer than in the previous year. It is believed that this reduction is, in part, a response to the Windrush scandal.
What is a Deportation Order? According to part 13 of the immigration rules, an immigration order, “requires the subject to leave the United Kingdom and authorises his detention until he is removed. It also prohibits him from re-entering the country for as long as it is in force and invalidates any leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom given him before the Order is made or while it is in force”.
A deportation order may be issued where: the Secretary of State deems the person’s deportation to be conducive to the public good, or the person is the spouse or civil partner or child under 18 of a person ordered to be deported, or a court recommends deportation in the case of a person over the age of 17 who has been convicted of an offence punishable with imprisonment. The Home Office will typically issue a deportation order automatically where a foreign national has committed a criminal offence with a custodial sentence of more than one year.
Read more: Reiss Edwards: https://is.gd/PwspLk
Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre to Close
Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre in Lincolnshire is due to close. Words of celebration and victory are coupled with mourning the deaths of those killed inside – Carlington ‘Jammy’ Spencer, Rubel Ahmed, Lukasz Debowski, Bai Bai Ahmed Kabia and over 500 suicide attempts, anger as the hostile environment continues. An inspection report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons earlier this year found high levels of self-harm, violence and use of force at Morton Hall.
The closure of Morton Hall means the reduction of the number of spaces in UK detention centres by 392 spaces, which should be claimed as a victory by those who have campaigned tirelessly for it’s closure since 2011. We give thanks and solidarity to those in South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group, Student Action for Refugees Sheffield, and campaigners from Nottingham, Sheffield, and other areas for their persistent protests for closure for the last decade.
However, the victory, as they so often do, feels bittersweet. It is a small win in the bigger fight of ending the Hostile Environment, the racist policies and practices deliberately designed by the UK government to intimidate and harm migrants in the UK. Morton Hall will cease to detain people under immigration powers, but those held there will be moved to other detention centres, rather than released. We demand their immediate release into the community. In addition, Morton Hall will revert to a prison, and we believe expansion of the prison service is another human rights injustice that must be resisted. You can find out more about this via the Campaign Against Prison Expansion website. We have written about the cruelty, harm and injustices that take place inside the walls of Morton Hall many times. Last year, protesters contributed to this article. The closure of Morton Hall cannot undo the years of harm caused within its walls at the hands of the UK government.
Source: These Walls Must Fall, https://is.gd/pdPuIQ
Home Office Breaking Law by Leaving Destitute Asylum Seekers Homeless
Asylum seekers are becoming homeless because the Home Office is unlawfully failing to provide them with accommodation. Under asylum law, the Home Office is required to grant housing and support to asylum seekers who are waiting on their claims, or whose claims have been refused but who aren’t able to leave the UK. The Independent has seen court orders from recent weeks in which the government has been told it must house destitute individuals whom it has a legal duty to support. In some cases it has been ordered to reimburse charities for costs they have incurred to accommodate these people while it has failed to do so.
Court documents show that the department has been granting people asylum support on paper, but failing to provide it until solicitors intervene. In some cases, asylum seekers – some of whom are also victims of modern slavery or torture – have had to wait months to be housed. In all cases The Independent has been made aware of, the individuals have been accommodated by friends of charities and the legal action has been taken just before this informal support has had to end, meaning they did not have to sleep on the streets.
However, lawyers and charities said there were many destitute asylum seekers who would not have access to legal representation to enable them to resolve their cases in court, and may have fallen into street homelessness as a result. Campaigners said that while there were already delays in providing housing, the pandemic had exacerbated the situation, as many asylum seekers who had been sofa surfing were forced out of these arrangements due to the lockdown, and subsequently applied for government support.
Read more: May Bulman, Independent, https://is.gd/COASgI